Jummah Reflection: Do you really want FREEDOM?

Jummah Reflection: Do you really want FREEDOM?

Jummah Mubarak, Shabbat Shalom & TGIF!

This week I’m thinking about “freedom” and how few people really want it.

Now, most people will say that they want “freedom” if you ask them outright, but the truth is that they only want the freedom to believe what THEY want, do what they think makes THEM happy, and organize the world according to what THEY believe is right, good and just–even when it’s self-defeating and oppressive to other people with whom they claim to share a common goal or society.

Freedom is a value that I believe in deeply. It’s the mechanism by which individual humans have the ability to fully realize their existence. It must be preserved and protected.

But what if someone’s expression of freedom offends, hurts or contradicts another person’s? What if someone tells you that YOUR expression of freedom is hurtful or offensive? Even if it’s something you hold near and dear to your heart?

Where do we draw these lines in a society? How do we preserve the rights of individuals to explore ideas and beliefs, even when we disagree or dislike them?

I have discovered that most people dislike freedom. We only want freedom to define a finite space that gratifies our egos, and then any other act of freedom that challenges it may be considered unethical, immoral or illegal.

Even within our own adopted belief systems, religions or political ideologies–an act of non-conformity by a community member is usually immediately denounced or squashed — the community member may even be rejected outright. They may even be defamed, shunned or killed–depending on how threatening their community feels about their exercise of individual freedom.

Freedom shouldn’t be elevated above all other social, political or spiritual concerns — but I also think it’s the first thing people want to chuck out when the shit goes down. Freedom carries with it risk, so that is an understandable response–but it’s not the correct one.

Because as history shows, once freedom is gone, it becomes next to impossible to win it back. Then it’s the biggest, strongest and richest who dictate what is true and what is not. And they are never the majority.